He finds the general captivating: According to tradition, Agaja developed the bodyguard into a militia and successfully used them in Dahomey's defeat of the neighbouring kingdom of Savi in Public Domain At least one bit of evidence hints that Alpern is right to date the formation of the female corps to the early 18th century: The reports also noted variously that the women soldiers suffered several defeats. The Dahomey Warriors were known to be especially skillful, competitive, and brave.
Around the same time Western visitors to Abomey noticed a sharp jump in the number of female soldiers. Recruitment[ edit ] Seh-Dong-Hong-Beh , a leader of the Amazons Ghezo recruited both men and women soldiers from foreign captives, though women soldiers were also recruited from free Dahomean women, some enrolled as young as 8 years old. One theory traces their origins to teams of female hunters known as gbeto, and certainly Dahomey was noted for its women hunters; a French naval surgeon named Repin reported in the s that a group of 20 gbeto had attacked a herd of 40 elephants, killing three at the cost of several hunters gored and trampled. During a battle with French soldiers at Adegon on October 6 during the second war, the bulk of the Amazon corps were wiped out in a matter of hours in hand-to-hand combat after the French engaged them with a bayonet charge. They are outstandingly brave … well trained for combat and very disciplined. That seven-week war was fought even more fiercely than the first. Wren 's book of short stories Stepsons of France contains a story called "Here are Ladies," describing a series of clashes between troops of the Foreign Legion and the Dahomey Amazons. The Dahomey Warriors were known to be especially skillful, competitive, and brave. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that, in the course of just four major campaigns in the latter half of the 19th century, they lost at least 6, dead, and perhaps as many as 15, Ghezo's Amazons play a significant role in the novel Flash for Freedom! In their very last battles, against French troops equipped with vastly superior weaponry, about 1, women took the field, and only about 50 remained fit for active duty by the end. In a interview with a Beninese historian, she claimed to have fought the French in According to a historian who traced the lives of almost two dozen ex-amazons, all the women displayed difficulties adjusting to life as retired warriors, often struggling to find new roles in their communities that gave them a sense of pride comparable to their former lives. The Dahomey king was later arrested, deported to Martinique, then Algeria where he died. The maneuvers begin in the face of a looming downpour, but King Glele is eager to show off the finest unit in his army to his European guest. Wikicommons Their last enemies were full of praise for their courage. The bravest are presented with belts made from acacia thorns. The resulting delay led to many of the French casualties. Probably she was the last. The main character of Charles R. By the midth century, they numbered between 1, and 6, women, about a third of the entire Dahomey army, according to reports written by visitors. She thinks she is holding a rifle because abruptly she shoulders and fires, then reloads her imaginary arm and fires again, imitating the sound of a salvo. European observers noted that they "handled admirably" in hand to hand combat, but that they did not know how to use their flintlocks. We suddenly see the old woman straighten up. The scaling of vicious thorn hedges was intended to foster the stoical acceptance of pain, and the women also wrestled one another and undertook survival training, being sent into the forest for up to nine days with minimal rations.
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